The manner of Anil Kumble's exit as India coach and how the entire captain-coach saga played out in public view was both "unfortunate" and unfair to the former India captain, according to his former colleague Rahul Dravid. He also conceded that players were invariably more powerful than coaches, and any power-struggle inevitably resulted in the favour of the players.
Kumble stepped down immediately after the Champions Trophy in June after his partnership with Kohli became "untenable." Ahead of that tournament, reports of Kohli telling BCCI about players being uncomfortable with Kumble's "overbearing" ways surfaced.
"At the end of the day, I don't know the specifics of that particular issue, but it shouldn't have got played out in the way that it did," Dravid said at the Bangalore Literature Festival. "I think the whole thing got played out in the media which is very, very unfortunate for Anil and not fair on him at all.
"So, what's the reality of it and what happens behind closed doors is not something I'm privy to, so I can't comment directly. But it was definitely an unfortunate episode, especially to someone like Anil who has been an absolute legend of the game, someone who has done more to win Test matches for India than anybody I know. And he had a successful year as coach as well. But the fact is that it should never have played out the way that it did, publicly."
That the coaching job came with an inherent risk of a sack wasn't lost on Dravid. "See, coaches get sacked. The first thing you know when you stop playing and become a coach is that some day you are going to get sacked," he said. "That's the reality.
"As an India A and Under-19 coach, I know that someday I'm going to get the boot. Some football managers get sacked after two games, so that's the reality. Players are more powerful than coaches. We know that because we were more powerful than coaches when we played."
When there was a suggestion that players had become too powerful, Dravid said players had little say in their journey to superstardom. "A lot of cricketers come from humble, middle-class backgrounds. At the core of all this, if you remove the hype and hoopla, they are just normal guys who grew up and became heroes," he said. "They became heroes thanks to people like you [anchors, journalists], television asking for interviews, writing books about them. It's the game that has made them heroes.
"I read that the players have become too big, but who has made them too big? It's very easy to say that, and also a lot of other people have become rich by players becoming rich. It's reality now. It's the fact of the matter. At the end of the day, cricketers are simple people. But everything gets blown out of proportion for them. So they have to deal with things a certain way."